Bioarchaeology of the Near East, 3:17-26 (2009)

Skeletal bilateral asymmetry in a medieval population from Deir an-Naqlun (Nekloni), Egypt

Elzbieta Jaskulska

Department of Bioarchaeology,
Institute of Archaeology, University of Warsaw,
ul. Krakowskie Przedmiescie 26/28, 00-927 Warszawa, Poland

Abstract: Directional asymmetry in upper limb bones was studied in a sample of human remains excavated at a medieval cemetery located near the monastery Deir an-Naqlun, Egypt. Humeri, ulnae, radii and clavicles of 97 adult individuals (mostly males) were measured and Directional Asymmetry and Absolute Asymmetry values were counted for maximum lengths, diaphyseal circumferences, epiphyseal measurements and robusticity indices. Most measurements exhibited some degree of asymmetry with right-side domination and only maximum length of the clavicle was skewed towards the left side. No significant differences between the sexes were observed and only the length of the humerus and combined humerus+radius length did not differ from the human-specific handedness rate with ~80% of right-handed and ~15% of left-handed individuals. The results are in concordance with the general pattern observed in other skeletal samples, suggesting that the pattern of directional asymmetry may be related to factors other than handedness.

Key words: upper limb, handedness, directional asymmetry, medieval Copts, bone metric measurements

Received 12 October 2008; accepted 14 July 2011; published online 16 July 2011.

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